The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) has passed a crucial law that could transform how transboundary ecosystems and resources in East Africa are managed. EALA is the legislative arm of the East African Community, a regional block bringing together five countries, namely, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
Hon. Dr. George Nangale, the former Chairman of the Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Tourism at EALA, and who moved the bill in 2008 was delighted to see it enacted. “I am glad to see this landmark bill go through, many thanks for the support from all stakeholders,” he said.
The new law is considered critical since it establishes a mechanism for addressing developments of a transboundary nature that affect shared ecosystems. Among other things, it establishes a Commission that will supervise and monitor the implementation of policies on the management of such resorces. It emphasises the need for Environmental Impact Assessment of projects with impacts of a transboundary nature, with the Commission playing a key role in the approval process.
“This is a welcome development. East African countries now have a good chance to collaborate and share information on development projects of a transboundary nature. It will no longer be business as usual” Said Mr. Deo Gamassa, the new CEO of the Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania (BirdLife in Tanzania).
The new regional legal framework is set to benefit transboundary ecosystems like Lake Natron and Serengeti National Park which, in the recent past, have drawn global attention as a result of proposed large scale development projects.
At Lake Natron, the National Development Corporation proposed to build a $ 450 million soda ash plant to produce half a million tonnes of industrial sodium bicarbonate per year. However, concerned groups raised concerns, citing the sensitivity of Lake Natron as the only regular breeding site for Lesser Flamingos in Eastern Africa. Three quarters of the global population of the pink birds are hatched at Lake Natron -read more.
The Transboundary Ecosystems Management Bill 2010 was passed on 31 January 2012 at EALA’s Third meeting of the Fifth Session taking place in Kampala, Uganda.